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Paul Keres vs Alexander Kotov
Budapest Candidates (1950), Budapest HUN, rd 5, Apr-18
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Opocensky Variation (B92)  ·  1-0



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Given 58 times; par: 32 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Very nice game!
Sep-17-03  Shadout Mapes: Wow, I always heard Kotov was a major grandmaster, but Keres simply tore him to shreds. Is there anything wrong with 9...Nxh5?
Jan-30-04  Dick Brain: <Honza> it certainly was a nice game. It's the first game given in Vukovic's "art of attack in chess". And a very original opening to say the least. It seems pretty impossible that 10 Nxe6 could have been home preparation.

<Shadow Mapes> As far as I know 9. Bh5 was played in only one other international game, Peretz - Saidy, in 1969. Saidy played 9... g6 and got a perfectly satisfactory game until he hung a rook a few moves later like a complete patzer.

Sep-28-04  zhentil: i think the reason he avoided nxh5 is that white, after qxh5, is already threatening nxe6. after qxh5 g6, white goes qh4 and the weak dark squares, along with white's pressure along the h4-d8 diagonal, leave black in a bad way.
Oct-18-04  RonB52734: <D.Brain> In my version (a 2003 reprint edited by John Nunn) this is the 4th full game given in the book, and I'm just reading your kibitzes before playing through it for the first time.

I gather that the "games like this one" feature only picks up at move 7. For this game, it's interesting to note that of the 14 "similar" games, Kotov was black in 10 of them (+1 -2 =7).

Jan-26-06  morphyvsfischer: 9...Nc5 instead of 9...Qc4? and now the sac doesn't work since the knight is covering c7.

10...Kd8? is a boo-boo as well

Jun-02-06  Hidden Skillz: if 11.Kd8 is not better than Nxd5 then i dont know what is.. due to Re1.. what do u suggest mvsf?
Apr-09-08  DrGridlock: This game is annoted by Keres in "The Complete Games of Paul Keres."

While the opening was home-cooked by Keres, Kotov's 9th move (Qc4) deviated from Kere's analysis, and the Knight sacrifice 10 Ne6 was found by Keres "on the fly."

After 6 Be2, Keres writes:
"I had definite reasons for choosing this move in the game. Kotov always employed in this variation a development system akin to the Scheveninengen with the moves Q-B2, P-K3 and B-K2, and I had prepared a new type of attacking continuation precisely against this."

After 9 Bh5, Keres writes:
"The chief idea of White's opening system centres around this original Bishop move, which is desinged to prevent Black's method of development by B-K2 followed by 0-0. On account of the threat of 10 KtxP, Black must now choose other paths far removed from the Schevinengen line. ... White has achieved a psychological victory in that he has diverted his opponent from the prepared opening variation. And in such cases it is not easy to find the right move at once over the board."

After Black's 9 Qc5, Keres writes:
"It is interesting to note that in my own preparatory study of the line I had not at all taken into account this natural move."

After 10 Nxe6, Keres writes:
"After an exhaustive examination of the position, however, the interesting idea occurred to me of initiating a sharp attack with this Knight sacrifice aimed at the enemy King which has been left too long in the centre. The sacrifice in question is not based on exactly calculated variations but more on general considerations. I thought that after accepting the sacrifice Black would have great difficulties with the defense, since White is considerably ahead in development and will soon be in a position to set up some harassing threats."

Dec-01-09  hedgeh0g: Alexander's queen was Kotov from the defence of the king.
Sep-04-10  invas0rX: stupid operning for keres
Jul-30-11  wordfunph: Keres - Kotov

after 9...Qc4

click for larger view


from the book Paul Keres' Best Games Volume 2 - Open & Semi-Open Games by Egon Varnusz, a wise old kibitzer said..

"If Keres is shaking his leg nervously, he always has a sacrifice in mind."

Mar-14-14  capafischer1: what a great attack
Mar-14-14  Kinghunt: 21. R1e6 would have been a beautiful finish if not for 21...Bxf4, spoiling it.
Mar-21-15  superstoned: <Hidden Skilz> I thought about 13.Re1+ in the variation 11...Nxd5 12.exd5 Qf5 but realized that actually keeping the Rook on f1 is much stronger. (In the variation above, after 13.Re1+ Ne5 14.f4 h6! the Black Queen escapes further harassment and White loses some of his persuasive initiative.)

But after 13.Qe1+ leaving the Rook on f1 allows White to capture on e5 with discovery. 11...Nxd5 12.exd5 Qf5 13.Qe1+! Ne5 (13...Qe5 14.f4 also loses after 14...Qxe1 15.Rxe1+ and proof that 13.Qe1 beats the hell out of 13.Qe2) 14.f4 h6 15.fxe5 Qxg5 16.exd6+. We reach the following impossible to defend position:

click for larger view

If 16...Kd7 then 17.Rxf7+ followed by a Queen check and activation of the QR, like maybe 17...Kxd6 18.Qb4+ Kxd5 19.Rd1+. Feels like White is up 2 Rooks and a Bishop, King-hunting. If 16...Kd8 17.Qa5+ leads to a quick mate and I wonder if White, through his deep and constant communion with the Spirit, calculated all this subconsciously, beneath his own awareness? Lightning intuition spoke to him about Nxe6, and Caissa used Keres to speak to us about Chess!

May-13-23  Brenin: Suitable Saturday level, but perhaps too well known, thanks to Vukovic? This is also in Keres's complete games. If 11 ... Nxd5 12 exd5 Qf5 then 13 Qe1+ (stronger than Re1+) Ne5 14 f4 g6 15 fxe5 Qxg5 16 exd6+, and if Kd8 then 17 Qa5+ Ke8 18 Rae1+ (the point of Qe1+), so 16 ... Be7 17 Bf3 and White is much better.
May-13-23  mel gibson: I got this one wrong -
I thought 10. Nf5 to clear the e file.

Stockfish 15 says:

10. Nxe6

(10. Nxe6 (Nd4xe6 h7-h6 Bg5xf6 Nd7xf6 Ne6xf8 Nf6xh5 Qd1xd6 Qc4-c6 Qd6-e5+ Ke8xf8 Qe5xh5 Bc8-e6 Rf1-d1 Ra8-e8 Rd1-d2 Kf8-g8 Ra1-d1 Qc6-b6 b2-b3 Qb6-c6 Qh5-f3 Kg8-h7 h2-h3 Rh8-f8 Nc3-d5 b7-b5 c2-c3 Qc6-c5 Rd2-d4 Re8-c8 b3-b4 Qc5-a7 a2-a3 Qa7-b8 Qf3-e3 Qb8-e5 f2-f4 Qe5-h5 Rd1-d3 Rf8-e8 Qe3-g3 Rc8-c6 Kg1-h2 Be6xd5 Rd4xd5 Qh5-e2 e4-e5 Qe2-e4 Rd5-d7 Kh7-g8 Rd3-d6 Rc6xd6 Rd7xd6 Re8-e6 Rd6-d8+ Kg8-h7 Qg3-d3 Qe4xd3 Rd8xd3) +5.00/48 667)

score for White +5.00 depth 48.

May-13-23  jrredfield: I kept trying to make a Bishop move work for White. I settled on 10 Bxf6, which I later saw keeps things even, perhaps a slight bit better for Black. I never saw the text move. It doesn't shift the balance significantly, requiring significant work for White to close it out.

Black erred with 9 ... Qc4 when 9 ... g6 would have kept the sides balanced.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Already knew this one thanks to Vukovic's book; otherwise would have had zero chance of solving it. Still has the power to astonish after all these years.
May-13-23  landshark: A typical Sicilian position in that W does get an attack - but originality is required. My mental block against seeing anything but bomb-proof solidity when facing the Sicilian drove me away from 1.e4 longer ago than I care to admit. Mindset is a funny thing - for years I had as much bad luck playing the Sicilian with the black pieces as I did with the white ones. Somehow, with age, that's not a problem anymore, and am actually more comfortable in those pawn structures than any other form of self-torture one must undergo when facing 1.e4
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: I know this game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: Got most of this, but was expecting Re1 much earlier.

I can understand why the game is well known, even if I didn't know it (or once did and had forgotten it). So I find it strange, looking at a 1950 game now or with 1970s eyes, that Kotov played 9 ... Qc4?, almost inviting 10 Nxe6, a torpedo shot through B's position and which became a stock sac against the Najdorf.

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: I tv it's whick pan frequent it's z c you Nxe6 a cliff muffle axiom jah it's a fog pig arrive oar Nxe6 dim
May-13-23  thegoodanarchist: Great game!
May-13-23  Defrogger: Power of the pin and fork.. Bh5 set up the N sac, and allowed Nd5 and Bh4 with attacks. Great example of the idea of the threat is more powerful than the threat
Premium Chessgames Member
  raymondhow: I picked the first nine moves correctly, then chose a real blunder 19.Bc3 instead of 19.Rae1. My rule is, not even half credit if my deviation is clearly losing.

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